23 July 2013

C.S. Lewis, I love you.

"Make no mistake, [Christ] says, 'if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect - until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less." 

C.S. Lewis

21 July 2013

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, you have stolen my heart.

There are a few things in this world that I love probably a little more than considered normal. There are some things in this world that I love to an extent of love that could be considered strange, or obsessive. In that category lies cupcakes, shopping, and of course, Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

Nine years ago today Elder Maxwell died. His life was a purely perfect life of legacy. I have yet to hear words that resonate with me more deeply than the words of Elder Maxwell. His words are poetry. The way he says everything is so perfect, and articulate, and eloquent. I have never considered being an English major until I have seriously studied the words of Elder Maxwell.

Elder Maxwell has thirty publications, just in books! I am slowly checking each one off, but then, he has over one hundred college devotionals, general conference talks, New Era articles, Ensign articles, Friend articles, and so on and so forth. I am slowly checking those off, but it's going to take me a long time. 

Today, I'm grateful for the life that man lead. I feel silly calling him a man; he is so much more than that to me. His words have changed me. His perspectives have changed me. His knowledge and his wisdom have changed me. I am sincerely grateful for the men that the Lord has called to lead and guide this church. They truly are men called of God, and their example and their faith inspire me to no end.

And one more thing: 
Happy Birthday to this babe right here!

You make my life so much more fun!
I love you forever big sis.

14 July 2013

I Feel My Savior's Love

No matter what you've done, 
you cannot separate yourself 
from the love of God. 
You are never out of His reach.

Love in mortality isn't guaranteed, even when there are times people may have seemingly good intentions. As Latter-Day-Saints, as people of any religion or without religion or without belief in a higher power, love is central. Love is standard. Love is one common ground we each have. Unfortunately, mortality comes with a wide range of temptations, and weaknesses. The natural man is a very real thing. It takes consistent, prayerful efforts to overcome that. 

I have seen beautiful love, and I have known beautiful love. I like to think I love as purely as I know how, and as purely as I am capable. Marriage can teach you a lot of things, but one of the most special lessons I think one can learn is to love unconditionally. To be able to look at someone, and in a small way see them the way our Father and Savior see them. To always think the best of someone, despite what they might do. When my husband left, when I witnessed the terrible way he treated me, when I became aware of his actions, and even when I heard he was getting married, my initial mindset was simply to care. To some extent I was in denial, and disbelief. How could this "wonderful man" I married do this? My first instinct was to defend him. My first instinct was to think the best of him. My first instinct was love, and compassion. One of the most trying parts of my divorce was to train myself to realize and understand, he is this person I didn't want him to be. His intentions weren't good. The numerous excuses I made for him were invalid. As trying as this part of my divorce has been, how amazing is it that it was a part of the struggle I experienced? 

As I said at the beginning, love, in this second estate, is not guaranteed. Because of this, love sometimes tends to be seen as a four letter word with no eternal significance about it. If you begin to feel that way, it is then you know you have overlooked The Lord.

Nothing - not mortality or our decisions - can separate us from the love of The Lord. Nothing we do can influence the condition of His love. His love is constant. His love is unconditional. His love is pure, and perfect, and unlike anything mortality can comprehend. There are days it's hard to believe in the immaculate goodness of love, but it is then I know I have overlooked The Lord.

He loves me. He loves me completely. His love looks past all my weaknesses, all my short-comings, and it is still whole. It is still omniscient. Like a toddler in a pool, there are moments fear overcome that young spirit. That fear comes from realizing the things around you - to potentially save you - are out of reach. He may feel out of our reach. He may seem too far away to save us, but I testify we are never too far away from Him. We are never out of His reach. I testify His love can reach us, through thick, through thin, through trial, and mistake. We are always in His grasp. And nothing we can do - not mortality or our decisions- can change that.

09 July 2013

"Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him." -Augustine of Hippo

Twenty two is an interesting stage of life. The future is a vast unknown landscape, which is terribly intriguing and horrifying. Unfortunately, around my neck of the woods, at age twenty two, people are mostly looking for one thing, and that is to get married. 

I'll be honest, there is nothing that terrifies me more than marriage. After giving someone everything you have, after promising eternity and all that, after having it not be good enough, that is scary. The thought of it happening again is debilitating, actually. Oh, hey! Remember that one time we were sealed for time and all eternity? Yeah, that was cool! Thanks for the good time! 

The other night my friend and I were talking. She said something that struck me, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has felt the exact pain and rejection I feel, and have felt. He has felt broken trust, broken promises, broken marriages. Not only has He felt the exact rejection I have, but He has felt the rejection of every failed marriage and broken temple covenant in all of time. He has felt every rejection of all of mankind. He was rejected by all of mankind. He was rejected by Judas, his dearest friend. He was rejected by people who not only didn't believe His words, but who spit at Him, and despised Him, and hated Him for His words. He was rejected and He was crucified. He has felt every kind of betrayal, every kind of rejected love, in all forms. And not once did it stop Him or will it ever stop Him from loving everyone fully, and completely, and unconditionally.

Christ could have been plagued by the rejection, like I have been. He could have been terrified to feel that pain again, but He continued on loving just the same. No hesitations. No reservations. He has given His heart to all of mankind. He has given His heart to each of us. He has given His heart to anyone who is willing to take it.

As easy as it would be to cower away from love and marriage and relationships and people for the rest of my life, (and trust me that's been my plan), my ultimate goal in this life is to become closer to Christ, and more like Christ, and if I turn away from love - in any form - which is quite literally the epitome of what our Savior is, that would literally be walking away from everything He has shown me, and shown to all of mankind.

"Love is not worth the name if you keep one foot in and one foot out," as Elder Holland would say. I believe that applies to all aspects of our lives. Friendships, relationships, marriages. It's all scary, but it's supposed to be. Otherwise there would be no need for faith, and there would be no need for Christ's perfect example. 

As much as I deny it, and as much as I fight it, I believe in marriage. I believe marriage is eternal. I believe in the holiness and sanctity of marriage. And why? Because I believe in my Father and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Nothing could ever stop Christ from loving fully and completely. If anyone ever had an excuse to be too terrified to love, it would be our Savior. The rejection and betrayal and pain He felt has no end. We cannot fathom any part of it. And without His love, we would be nothing.

He that loveth not 
knoweth not God; 
for God is love. 
1 John 4:8

He that dwelleth 
in love dwelleth 
in God, and God 
in him. 
1 John 4:16

There is no fear 
in love; but 
perfect love 
casteth out fear. 
1 John 4:18

My Savior has given me a reason to love.
My Savior defines love.
My Savior represents love.
My Savior is love.
My Savior has given me His love.
And in return, I will love as He did.
For Christ's way never faileth.

07 July 2013

"A testimony is fragile. It is as hard to hold as a moonbeam. It is something you have to recapture every day of your life.” -Harold B. Lee

The week before I left New Zealand, I thought it would be fitting to bear my testimony. The people in my ward knew what I had been going through, and it just seemed appropriate. Naturally, I knew the Spirit was going to guide me. I walked up to the pulpit and stood there. Nothing came out of my mouth. I actually think I forgot what I was doing. The Spirit works in funny ways I guess! It certainly did that day.

Today, I tried again. I managed to get through it, and actually did okay. The bishopric didn't make fun of me this time for my legs shaking, (almost all of my Bishops have mentioned it). Instead of worrying about the number of eyes on me, I focused on what The Lord was hearing. I can only imagine how much it pleases Him and His Father in Heaven when They see Their children testifying of the truths that they know.

Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you. -D&C 62:3

The things I know to be true have proven to be essential in my life. It's pretty amazing that as I was bearing my testimony today, millions of people around the world were standing at a pulpit doing the same thing. This gospel is a beautiful thing. 

And let it be recorded!
I know with all of my heart that it is true.

05 July 2013

Tonight? We will celebrate.

One year ago today, someone walked out of my life. When I watched him walk away I thought I saw my life going with him. A year ago, what was walking away was a life I could have had. A life I thought I was going to have. A life I thought I wanted to have. 

When he walked away I thought my heart went along with him. As he left I thought I saw him put my dreams in his right pocket, and my happiness in his left.

I'm happy to say that my dreams and my happiness were in my pocket all along.  It took a while for me to realize that, but I know now that they are in there - safe and snug. When he walked away I had no choice but to go a separate way; an unwanted way, but a better way.

There are why's that still remain why's. The how could they's remain the how could they's. But it's the what are you going to do about it's that brought me here, today.

The last 365 days have been freaking hard. The majority of those days have been horrible, and ugly. However; those horrible and ugly days have resulted in my most beautiful days, and my most beautiful moments. They have resulted in countless beautiful lessons learned.

I've talked about it a million times on this blog. There is nothing more to re-hash. What happened was terrible. What someone did was terrible. What it did to me was terrible. But I am here now. I am 365 days past it. Today is sunny. It is bright. It is full of possibilities and opportunities and blessings. And as my dad would say, "it is no coincidence that today is the day after Independence Day."

am free.